A Harvard University study has provided a detailed evolutionary explanation for why chimpanzees only have a life expectancy of 40 years, while in humans it is easily 30 years longer. Staying active all your life is the secret…
“It’s a widespread idea in the western world that it’s normal to slow down a bit as you get older. We retire and become less physically active,” he says. Daniel Lieberman, evolutionary biologist at the Harvard University and the lead author of the study, which was published in PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
“But our message is just the opposite: as we get older, it becomes even more important to stay physically active,” said Lieberman, who argues that lack of physical activity increases the risk of disease and decreases longevity.
chimpanzees set a bad example in this regard. In the wild, they only live for a maximum of 40 years and rarely live long after the menopause. These great apes are significantly less active than most humans, suggesting that in human evolution there was selection not only to live longer, but also to be more physically active.
“Essentially, we evolved from couch potatoes,” argues Lieberman, who adds that the image we have that human lifespans were not very long until recently is wrong. Fossil evidence shows that as of 40,000 years ago, a lifespan of 70 years was quite normal for a human.
Physical activity is physiologically stressful and causes damage to the body at the molecular, cellular and tissue levels. And yet that would be healthy and life-extending? How did that happen?
The answer is that our bodies rebuild this damage in a stronger way: repairing tears in muscle tissue, repairing the damage to cartilage and healing micro-fractures. Also, exercise releases antioxidants and substances that fight inflammation and improve blood circulation. This lowers the risk of diabetes, obesity, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s on depression. And therefore makes us grow older healthy(er).
10 TO 20 MINUTES A DAY
“We evolved to stay active throughout our lives. In the past, daily physical activity was necessary for survival, but today we must choose to exercise, to voluntarily engage in physical activity for the sake of our health and fitness said Lieberman. “The good news is that you don’t have to be as active as a hunter-gatherer. Even small amounts of physical activity — just 10 to 20 minutes a day — significantly reduce your risk of death.”